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VOA Chief Discusses Proposed Burma Bureau

From right: VOA Director David Ensor, Burmese Parliament speaker Thura Shwe Mann and VOA Burmese Service Chief Than Lwin Htun in Naypyitaw, Jun 04, 2012 (VOA)
VOA Director David Ensor is in Burma seeking to negotiate terms that would allow the U.S. broadcaster to open a news bureau in the long-isolated southeast Asian nation.

Ensor held introductory talks Monday in the Burmese administrative capital, Naypyitaw, with Parliament speaker Thura Shwe Mann.

"[The speaker] seemed very open and interested in some advice on how best to proceed to bring greater democracy to Burma," said Ensor. "So it was a good meeting, and we are interested in [VOA's Burmese language] service having more ability to report directly on the ground here in the country."

The visit comes as part of a wide-ranging set of diplomatic initiatives aimed at opening Burma to the West after decades of harsh military governance. The military rule, combined with Western economic sanctions, left Burma lagging far behind its neighbors in trade, commerce and human rights.

Ensor said he will use his four-day mission to meet with several key officials in the new, nominally civilian government that came to power last year.

The new Burmese government unblocked access to VOA's news web site last year, but the international broadcaster has not had an official presence inside the country since it gained independence from Britain in 1948.